Garry Monk defended Leeds United’s recent performances and said expectation of regular repeats of last month’s stirring display against Derby County was unrealistic after an attritional 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town.
Leeds fought back from a goal down to claim a point at Portman Road and maintain their control of a Championship play-off place, and Monk dismissed questions about his side’s struggle to replicate the impressive fluency seen in a 1-0 win over Derby on January 13.
Monk’s players turned in their most complete and convincing performance of the season in that fixture, drawing unstinting praise from Derby manager Steve McClaren, but Leeds have won three of their eight matches since then and rode a number of good Ipswich chances to force a draw on Saturday.
A patchy surface at Portman Road hindered Monk’s side after Freddie Sears opened the scoring early in the game. Stuart Dallas’ 42nd-minute equaliser secured a point, despite David McGoldrick striking the crossbar after half-time.
Asked to explain the difference in quality between the victory over Derby and subsequent matches, Monk said: “Welcome to the Championship. That’s what I’d say to that.
“We go out with the intention (of playing well) always but it’s impossible in this league.
“There’s no team in this league I’ve seen who can play the same way at the same level in every single game.
“The Championship doesn’t allow you that. The Championship is a league where you have to be able to adapt.
“Of course we fight for our way as hard as we can and you could see how much we tried to play (at Ipswich). We’re doing well and we’ll stay focused.
“Others can have their opinions and say what they want, and quite rightly so, but these players know what they’re doing and what they’re trying to do. They try and play football and it’s something we should all appreciate.
“It was a difficult game, there’s no getting away from it. But our character and commitment is always 100 per cent. You can see the players’ desire to win games and, if not, to come away with something.”
Dallas refused to blame Ipswich’s pitch for a tough afternoon and said Leeds could learn a lesson from their attempt to persist with their normal tactics.
“We’re trying to do the right thing but maybe at times we’ve got to use our experience, play to the pitch and turn them a few times,” Dallas said. “We forced ourselves into too many mistakes and bad decision-making. Everybody was guilty of it, not just one or two.
“It’s not a great surface but both teams had to play on it. There’s no point complaining. I’m sure it wasn’t a pretty game to watch but we showed real determination and desire to get something out of the game from a losing position. I think that says a lot about the group.”
Monk was boosted by defenders Luke Ayling and Kyle Bartley emerging from Saturday’s match without yellow cards. A booking for either player –their 10th of the season – would have earned them a two-match ban and ruled them out of this week’s derby against Sheffield Wednesday.
Charlie Taylor is unlikely to be available for that game but the left-back, who has missed the past 13 matches with an Achilles injury, has been pencilled in to resume training at Thorp Arch tomorrow.